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So I popped into Facebook this morning to take a quick look at the news feed, and, well, it was fairly brutal.  I immediately posted a rash (and most likely untrue, at least in the short term) comment that I would be abandoning the platform in favour of G+.  The thing is, the latest re-design is only a small part of the reason why I’m seriously contemplating ending my “relationship” with Facebook.

In fact, I’m thinking of abandoning the whole artificial construct of the large commercial Social Networks entirely, and I have a number of reasons that have been brewing at the back of my mind for a while.

First off, I was a late adopter to the Social Networking scene in general, and was never really convinced of it’s usefulness. I completely missed the MySpace and Friendster era of social networking, and don’t feel any pangs of regret over that.  I had trouble with the whole concept of joining such an artificial construct in order to make it easy for distant acquaintances to keep in touch with me.  I have a very small circle of friends and family that I keep in touch with, and this is by choice.  It is a limited group due to the fact that I don’t keep in touch with people I’m only tangentially interested in dealing with.  Life’s too short.  I would rather spend my limited socializing time with people who’s company I genuinely enjoy.

Secondly, and no less importantly, I have never been particularly comfortable with such blatant profiteering by others of my friendship circles.  Facebook, MySpace, G+, LinkedIn, essentially all of the “free” social networks make their dime by selling marketing information and access based on how you intersect and interact with others on their network.   This is really not much different than how marketing and sales works in the real world, but the social networks make the data-mining trivially easy.  I expect marketing companies to analyze individual behaviour and relationships to effectively target their wares.   But my general sense of orneryness makes me want to make them at least work for it.

Further, I wonder about the time commitment it takes on my part to make effective use of the platforms.  I won’t deny that they have some use, but to really get something out of it, you have to put something in.  And the time involved with putting something in is striking me as more valuably spent on other activities.  The Return on Investment I get from my activity in social networks is fairly negligible.

Overall, I just don’t “get it” never did, couldn’t be bothered to waste the time to figure it out, and am somewhat creeped out by the whole thing on a subconscious level.  So why the heck should I continue to spend time on it?

So, do I actually believe I can drop the habit?  I honestly don’t know.  If I’m being honest with myself, it will probably be difficult to wean myself of Facebook and G+.  In spite of never really being comfortable with, or fully embracing, either the concept or the platform, I’ve found myself spending an increasing amount of time on them over the past year or so.  It has become somewhat of a reflex to “check my news feed” on FB and G+ several times a day.  I’m almost interested in trying to abandon it just to see if I can, if I have the will-power to do it.

Do I plan on any alternatives to Social Networks?  Maybe, partly, kinda sorta, in a nebulous sort of way.  Maybe spend some more time blogging.  Maybe build out a limited access BBS or some such and take a stab at creating a small community of like-mindeds that I actually find it appropriate to keep in touch with in an online kinda way.  Most people, I’ll just call, visit, or email directly.  That strikes as being a far more effective and genuine means of maintaining a genuine social network.

6 Responses to “Trying to give up the “Social Network” habit.”

    $ ssh bbs@uncensored.citadel.org
    Last login: Wed Sep 21 13:28:16 2011 from rrcs-24-39-140-250.nyc.biz.rr.com
    Attaching to server…
    Citadel 8.00
    Uncensored
    Hawthorne, NY USA
    pause next stop
    ctrl-s ctrl-o ctrl-c

    W e l c o m e t o

    ———————–
    U N C E N S O R E D !
    ———————–

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    Enter your name:

    Where else can you fire off such a tight audience focused gut reaction rant on a moment’s notice?

    The blog seems like such a formal place to bitch – after all, you are never quite as sure you are going to get an audience. Sure, blogs could all group together in the hopes of getting more focused audiences… Oh wait, they tried that and it pretty much failed.

    Face it, you use Facebook because you WANT to rattle off random thoughts and have people on yer list of friends, family and acceptable dregs to reply in short order. We all need that fix, it replaces something we lost when we moved from small communities to cities so large no one knows their neighbours any more (just to stay sane)

    Besides, there’s all them facebook games everyone seems to keep playing!

    Truth be told, I have found Facebook to be very useful this year. In particular since I have never previously used Facebook or MySpace etc before this year either. I’ve found old friends, kept in touch with family without having to make dozens of phonecalls a day, even found a community of fellow followers that I would not have found otherwise (and believe me, I looked for years).

    It does have its place.

    Really, if it wasn’t important to you – would you get so worked up about a few little UI changes?

    If you read the full post above, you’ll know it’s about more than a few UI changes. There’s a lot that I really don’t get about FB, or don’t like.

    I’ve never played any of the games on FB, so that isn’t a draw for me. And as far as having a quick spot to fire off a rant? Do I really need that?

    For finding people and re-connecting, I dunno. Honestly, well over half the people on my “friends” list I could care less if they fell off the planet, I accept the requests based on social pressure, it would be rude to ignore the request. But do I actually want to hear from them, maintain contact with them? Notsomuch.

    I’m just looking at the whole thing and questioning whether my life is better or worse with FB. The scales are shifting towards the “making my life NON better…” not necessarily making it worse, just sucking time away from more productive and useful ways of maintaining contact with the big bad world outside my door.

    I decline friend requests on FB if I desire to, and prune with purposeful thought every so often. It’s mostly extended family, a few odd friends, few ex coworkers, highschool (I come from a very small school, about 18 graduated out of the 30 person double-normal-size class).

    I also edit, curate, my previous posts as I see fit. Now you see it, later today or next week you don’t.

    Making use of lists on FB or circles on GP further limits who sees what.

    I don’t do online games.

    Even with all the above, I have my moments of disable-everything-for-weeks.

    I have to say the most valuable thing thus far is keeping in touch with extended family most of all, beyond our twice yearly clan gatherings.

    I do read and appreciate the long forms of thought that were in the original post and the comments. I’m mostly over over analyzing myself these days and get such vicariously.

    Carry on.

    You somewhat read my mind, in terms of one of the reasons I’m going to try and steer clear of FB and social networks in general. Those mediums lend themselves too much to the pithy post and quick reply. I think if I’m going to share a thought with the big wide world, I should do the big wide world the courtesy of thinking through what I want to say, and explaining it fully.

    Too much communication these days is done in rapid fire succession. I find myself doing it at work, in emails that should be more professional. And no one calls me on it because it’s become the norm, it isn’t considered unprofessional anymore. And this is something that has changed within the past decade.

    It has advantages, sure, but I think we’re losing something valuable along the way.

Something to say?


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